The rush to go electronic was precipitated by the infamous Florida hanging chad in the 2000 presidential election.
Was the butterfly ballot a disaster? Sure it was. So dump the butterfly and replace it with paper or lever ballots that were proven effective in thousands of other jurisdictions around the nation. But instead, the electronic cottage industry emerged, realizing that there were millions and millions of dollars for the taking by convincing naive election officials and dopey legislators that “new” meant “better.”
The electronic machine lobby started throwing big bucks to politicians, who began doing backflips to show the public how tech-savvy they were.
I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard New York State was proposing to spend over $200 million to replace the dependable levers with the new, unproven electronic scanners. To make matters worse, Suffolk County was forced to spend over $1 million to construct modifications to our election building to ensure the new machines would be stored in a temperature controlled environment.
The fact that this was a colossal waste of money was itself enough to scrap this absurd proposal in its tracks. But, more importantly, we warned that going electric would place our entire sacred democratic process in the vulnerable position of possibly being hacked by operatives with nefarious intent. We in Suffolk even brought legal action to stop this insanity. We lost.
So there you have it. The self interested electronic machine lobby made investments through campaign donations and got the votes and funds they needed.
Meanwhile, dunderheaded legislators didn’t raise a peep about possible cyberattacks. They were “assured” by the electronic machine lobby that it just couldn’t happen.
The Clinton supporters alleging manipulation of the electronic machines probably won’t be able to prove it. But their concern about future elections may be warranted. Maybe it’s time to go back to the basics.
And if the left is so concerned about the integrity of the democratic process, perhaps they can cease their illogical opposition to reasonable efforts to require voters to simply identify themselves with proper documentation. Those opposing IDs stress that claims of voter fraud are exaggerated. That’s true enough. The right should not pretend that this is a widespread problem. But when it comes to the sanctity of elections, every single vote matters.
While the number of illegal votes may be a simple hand full, the margin of victory in many state and local races is often less than that. By way of example, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken won by 312 votes, a smaller margin than the number of votes his opposition claimed were illegally cast.
The balance of power in the New York State Senate currently rests on the recount of a handful of absentee ballots. And in the 2000 election, a shift of 500 votes in Florida would have produced a President Gore.
Delegates to the Democratic National Convention claimed that requiring the showing of an ID is racist, and yet, they all needed to flash an ID in order to get into the convention building. They claim it discriminates against the poor, but fail to recognize that ID is needed by many of these same folks to be eligible to collect a social services check. How is it racist in one instance, and not in the other?
I hearken back to the day I was denied a county golf pass because I didn’t have two acceptable IDs in my possession. Yet, I could have voted under another name with no questions asked. Go figure.
The left and right disagree on many things when it comes to the electoral process. But for the sake our democracy, let’s unite in a joint effort to ensure that only those qualified to vote actually do. Let’s also work together to dump these electronic machines and avoid even the slightest possibility that our political opposition — or even our international enemies — can illegally alter the outcome of our sacred democratic elections.
Steve Levy is president of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. He served as the executive of Suffolk County, N.Y., a New York State Assemblyman and host of “The Steve Levy Radio Show.” Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.